What can I do about my failed tile floor in the home I bought 1 year ago?

QUESTION

We have a three year old home in Florida ( which we bought as a resale an year ago) with ceramic floor tiles coming loose, most of them hollow and some cracked; other areas tenting; builder has been engaging a Grout company to inject Epoxy resin between the tiles which is not working. The Thin-set may not have been applied properly and breaking bond from the concrete; may not have appropriate expansion joint. Any recommendation as where we need to go from here? Thanks

ANSWER

ANSWER - It sounds as though your tile installation has failed and is debonding. It is likely due to compounding deficiencies in how it was installed. The substrate may have not been properly prepared. The tile likely wasn't bonded as well as it should have been, and there is likely not adequate movement joints to mitigate the normal stresses that a tile installation is subjected to. If the tile is installed correctly, it should perform well for the life of the home.

Depending in what state you live in, there are laws to protect the consumer against concealed defects known as a latent defect. In California the homeowner has 10 years to file a claim. Other states may have less time to file a claim. There are also state contractor boards where you can file a complaint to hold the developer responsible for correcting the deficient tile installation. There are attorneys who specialize in construction defect claims and sometimes it may be practical to hire one to pursue your claim.

2 thoughts on “What can I do about my failed tile floor in the home I bought 1 year ago?

  1. LESLIE APPLEBAUM says:

    My builder had a forensic tile inspection in my new home yesterday. It appears that none of the large format tiles in my entire living areas ( 2500 sq. ft.) have a proper bond to the thin set. Even the tile that didn’t sound hollow came up in one solid piece with no thin set stuck to the underside. What is the appropriate fix? My builder and their inspector want me to think that injecting all of them is the answer. I’m thinking they should be reinstalled properly.

    • Donato Pompo says:

      Keep in mind that the industry standards do not consider hollow sounds in tile is a deficiency per se. It can be an indication of a deficiency, but there are many reasons why a tile can sound hollow. Normally when a portion of a tile or a portion of a tile floor sounds hollow it could mean that the tile has voids under it. The standards do allow for up to 20% voids on interior floors as long as it is dispersed and not concentrated.

      Tiles that come up in full pieces can mean that the tile wasn’t bonded well, but I have seen cases where it is bonded well, but comes up in one piece. The only way to determine whether it meets the industry standard of 50 psi shear bond strength is to quantitatively test several of them.

      If the tile sounds hollow because the tile was spot bonded leaving substantially more voids than 20% I have seen where using a product called Fix-A-Floor did fill the voids and seemed to work well. I have also seen many cases where it didn’t work well with other products.

      Unless the tile has a minimum 50 psi shear bond strength and doesn’t have more than 20% voids that are not concentrated, then it won’t meet industry standards. Although it still might perform ok or over time you might have tiles come loose or if you drop heavy objects over the portions of tile that have voids underneath and not supported they can have a propensity to crack or crush.

      Whatever you do be sure to test out the remediation first to make sure it will work satisfactorily.

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